Methods and research meetings

The Methods and Research meetings are a joint seminar series of SSP (Faculty of Social and Political Sciences, UNIL) and FORS (Swiss Centre of Expertise in the Social Sciences, Lausanne). The meetings are a platform where members of SSP and FORS as well as guest speakers present their research. These meetings are organized by Jacques-Antoine Gauthier (ISS), Oliver Lipps (FORS), Davide Morselli (ISS) and Stephanie Steinmetz (ISS) and include presentations that cover substantive research raising interesting methodological questions (quantitative or qualitative), research focusing on methodological issues, or discussions on new methodological approaches. The speakers can also ask for feedback from other seminar participants to discuss methodological problems related to their research.

Save the date!

The next SSP-FORS Methods and Research Meeting will take place on Tuesday 28th of May 2024  (room 5799, Géopolis 12:15 to 13:30). 
Thomas Louail, CNRS researcher in computational social science, will give a presentation on the following topic:
Unveiling social desirability scales by comparing individuals’ responses to an online survey with their streaming history data

I will try to show how the combination of observational and declarative data, when collected for the same people, may be leveraged to unveil social desirability scales. 

In the framework of RECORDS, a collaborative project involving the CNRS and Deezer — one of the major music streaming platform in France — we have collected and combined the detailed streaming history data of about 10k French individuals, with their responses to an online survey about their music preferences and listening practices. We use these mixed data to build exploratory indicators, that aim to measure the gap between the preferences people declared in the survey with the music they streamed during the reference period covered by the survey. 

More specifically, we focus on two different levels of music description. First, we perform the analysis at the level of music genres, ill-defined categories that are nevertheless used in most of the quantitative studies in sociology of culture. We focus on genres traditionally considered as ‘highbrow’ (classical music and jazz) and ‘lowbrow’ (hip-hop and dance) due to the social attributes of people who prefer them. We test if this highbrow-lowbrow scale can be retrieved through the sole comparison of what people declare in the survey and what they stream, let aside their social attributes. We then reproduce the analysis at the level of artists (precisely-defined categories) for about a hundred artists considered typical of these genres. We show that while respondents tend, at an aggregated level, to stream what they declared, at the individual level there is a tendency to over-declare musical content that is (i) mostly consumed by higher-status individuals ; (ii) considered as quality-content by both professional and amateur critics.


Thomas Louail is a CNRS researcher in computational social science. He currently leads the RECORDS project, which focuses on the listening practices and music preferences of streaming platform users.

Semester 2023/2024

Presentation: 30 April 2024

GPS Tracking in a Panel Study in French-Speaking Switzerland and France: Challenges and Opportunities”

[Gisana Riedo and Louis Durussel, FORS]

The development of geolocation technologies has initiated a new era of data collection for research. This presentation aims to explore the implications of including GPS tracking in panel surveys. Drawing on the experiences within the Panel Lémanique project, we highlight the substantial advantages of this methodology, notably the exponential increase in data quantity and accuracy, as well as the enabling of robust comparisons of information from different sources.

We also address the challenges inherent to this approach, such as the ethical issues raised by GPS monitoring, the need for a well-staffed and trained support for respondents, the management of substantial volumes of complex data, and the resolution of problems associated with data gaps and variations in the timing of administration.

This presentation aims to stimulate a debate on best practices for integrating GPS tracking in survey research, while highlighting the importance of balancing technological innovation with scientific integrity and ethical responsibility.

Presentation: 26 March 2024

“Can 8-year-olds provide information about their family background, and what are alternative ways to gather this information?”
[Jessica Herzing, University of Bern]

Understanding the impact of socio-economic status (SES) and migration background on educational achievement is central to social stratification research. Accurate measurement of these family background indicators is crucial. Past studies have examined the validity of students’ reports on parents’ occupation, education, and home book availability, being influenced by factors like test scores or migration background. Our research delves into survey data from Swiss 8-year-olds, revealing disparities between student and parental reports, and evaluates the usefulness of administrative data to gather information on family background. The implications of unit and item nonresponse as well as measurement error are further discussed for commonly used models in education research.

In the second step, we explore alternative indicators for assessing socio-economic disparities among children using indicators for wealth cues, such as building images, birthday gifts, bathroom presence, and bedroom ownership. We validate these measures against traditional SES indicators, parental reports, and administrative data. Our findings indicate the potential of alternative SES measures when surveying young children, but these measures require further research and refinement.

Presentation: 27 February 2024

“The future of history: new ideas for an old problem”
[Marc Scott, New York University]

The life course perspective considers the entire history of individuals as the primary unit of analysis. There is empirical evidence and socio-behavioural theory supporting the notion that “history matters.” The sequence analysis community of researchers has established robust methods for organising individual historical pathways into typologies that inform narratives of the life course. These are often linked to social position, providing deeper understanding of the constraints and variation in how lives evolve. Yet these “types” are also commonly viewed as rough proxies for something more subtle and potentially predictive of later life outcomes. When it is possible to identify a precise “feature” of the history, such as a single parent household, such measures can be incorporated into models for important later outcomes, including health and income. In this study, we approach the question of “what matters” in life course histories using two methods: clustering to produce typologies and a mathematical projection based on categorical functional data analysis. Each method distills the history into a feature set that is used in a predictive model. We compare and contrast the performance of these methods on a known dataset to uncover strengths and limitations of each methodology, informing best practices and new methodological research.

Marc Scott is an applied statistician who specializes in statistical methods for longitudinal data. He has made substantial scientific contributions to labor market economics, psychology, education and health. He has led or served as Co-Investigator on studies of low-wage labor markets, pulmonary disease, educational attainment, and health, especially in under-resourced families. Methodological development has been in the areas of longitudinal data analysis (continuous and non-continuous outcomes, event histories), multilevel modeling, model-based clustering, and sequence analysis. He also has contributed to the field of causal inference, particularly in the area of sensitivity analysis. At his home institution (New York University), he teaches courses in statistical computing, multilevel models, generalized linear mixed models, and machine learning. He would be happy to meet with students to discuss methodological aspects of their research, particularly if it is in one of these areas of his expertise.

Presentation: 30 January 2024

“Quality of Digital Behavioral Data”
[Florian Keusch, University of Mannheim]

Digital behavioral data that stem from people’s interactions with online systems such as web sites, apps, and wearables are increasingly used in the social sciences to supplement or even substitute traditional survey data. While the hope is that these new type of data provides more detailed information that is less influendes by human social-psychological mechanisms involved in self-reporting, there is still little systematic researcher on their error properties. In this talk, I will present the results of a recent experimental study in Germany that explores the data quality of digital behavioral data from web trackers, apps, and data donation vis a vis survey self-reports.

Florian Keusch is Professor of Social Data Science and Methodology in the Sociology Department, School of Social Sciences at the University of Mannheim, and Adjunct Research Professor in the Joint Program in Survey Methodology at the University of Maryland. He studies the quality of digital behavioral data from wearbales, apps, and sensors and how they can complement survey data to better measure attitudes, behaviors, and social interactions.

To the presentation

Presentation: 28 November 2023

Validating Topic Modeling: Navigating Textual Data Analysis
[Jana Bernhard, University of Vienna]

In an era of abundant textual data, topic modeling has emerged as a powerful tool for uncovering latent themes and patterns within large corpora of text. It promises automated analysis of text data with minimal human supervision. However, the effectiveness of topic modeling hinges on the quality of the results it produces. In the absence of a standardized approach to validating topic models, a plethora of methods, statistics, and thresholds have been developed, creating a multitude of approaches that can be challenging to navigate.
This talk delves into the intricacies of topic modeling with a particular emphasis on the critical aspect of validation. This presentation will provide insights into the methodological challenges and innovative approaches in topic modeling validation by addressing questions such as: How do I select a model amidst pre-processing, hyperparameter tuning, and specifying the number of topics? How can we ensure that the topics we discover are valid and useful for studying our research questions? Is topic modeling a suitable method for my research project?

Presentation: 26 September 2023

“Development and use of Harmony, a Natural Language Processing tool to facilitate measurement harmonisation across studies”
[Bettina Moltrecht, University College London]

Integrative epidemiological and social science research has been hindered by inconsistent approaches to the measurement of similar constructs. For instance, reviews have estimated that over 280 questionnaires have been used to measure depression. One crucial approach to addressing this issue is the harmonisation of questionnaires, i.e. identifying similar question items that tap into the same symptom from different scales, and testing their measurement properties and equivalence empirically – thus enabling researchers to compare and combine findings across existing studies, even when different measures have been administered.  Successful measurement harmonisation and thus pooling of data allows not only for greater statistical power and more refined subgroup analysis, but also enhances generalizability of findings and the capacity to compare and cross validate data and findings from different contexts. I will demonstrate the new AI-driven tool called “Harmony” ( ) and how its  functionalities allow researchers to identify, compare and match survey items across multiple studies in a more efficient and transparent way. I will present use-case examples using real world meta-data from two UK cohort Studies, findings from our ongoing validation research and how existing platform can benefit from Harmony. In the end I would like to invite the audience to use Harmony, discuss familiar challenges and possible solutions around data harmonisation, especially considering cultural and contextual adaptations.

Co-authors: Eoin McElroy, Mauricio S Hoffmann, Thomas Wood and George Ploubidis

Presenter bio:
Dr Bettina Moltrecht is a mental health researcher at the University College London (UCL) and the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families in the UK. Bettina combines a strong clinical, tech and research background in her work. She is currently based at the Centre for Longitudinal Studies where she leads the Harmony project; and uses UK cohort and electronic health record data to investigate and model population mental health trends to identify new intervention targets. At the Anna Freud Centre she leads on the development of a new online intervention for families living with parental mental illness and is co-investigator on a large clinical randomised control trial to investigate the impact of mentalization-based treatment on emotion regulation in children.

Semester 2022/2023

Presentation: 31 January 2023

Who is minding the children? Gender equity in the first two years of the Pandemic
[Marc Scott, New York University]


The wholesale changes brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic to men and women’s “paid work arrangements and work-family supports” (Carlson et al., 2020) provides a natural experiment for exploring individuals’ time-use in the home. Distinct from evaluations of social policy, the pandemic provides an opportunity to examine to what extent the presence of both parents in the home has influenced the movement toward a more equal gender distribution of household labor; in particular, childcare responsibilities. To do this, the current study analyzes time-use diary data from the American Time Use Survey (ATUS). Unlike some of the initial analyses of pandemic effects, the current study does not limit itself to the year immediately prior to the pandemic and the year during it. We use over ten years of prior data, which allows us to model the secular and quarterly trends and predict what would have occurred in the absence of the pandemic, contrasting this to what indeed happened. This study informs long-standing social questions of gender equity. We also examine the question of “social reversion” after a major shock with the recently released 2021 ATUS. The analysis moves from the aggregate to the individual, using methods of sequence analysis, clustering, and matching to pose and answer the following questions: was there an increase in the childcare hours of primary and secondary childcare in 2020 vs. the same period in 2019 taking into consideration the historical trend; was the mean change in childcare hours the same for women and men; was there variation in the distribution of individual-level changes in time spent on childcare and did it differ by gender; was the  increase in time spent on childcare at regular intervals or more sporadically throughout the day; did 2021 show signs of reversion, and if so, was there parity across genders?

Presentation: 29 November 2022

“The feasibility of using data donations to measure mobile media usage”
[Marc Asensio Manjon]


Self-reports collected from survey responses have been the most common method to measure online behaviors. However, self-reports on online behaviors, and especially, when such behaviors are fragmented across situations, devices and platforms, are known to contain error due to its cognitively challenging nature. A proposed alternative to these self-reports is the use of direct observations of individuals’ online behaviors. We focus on the ‘Data donations’ approach, a process in which respondents willingly share with researchers data that already has been collected by their devices or platforms they use. Thereby, establishing a transparent and self-administrable dynamic that tracking software procedures do not have.

In this study, we asked members of an online panel (N = 872) to take part in a data donation process by using their own smartphones to access their ‘Digital Wellbeing (Android) / Screentime (IOS)’ tool and share that information with us. The tool allows respondents to check the amount of time they have spent using their smartphone on a daily basis and more specifically, in which apps. Moreover, the tool also displays information on the amount of times the device has been unlocked and the number of notifications received – total and by app.  Respondents were randomly assigned to one of the three treatment groups; in each of them, we asked respondents to share the same information from their ‘Digital Wellbeing / Screentime’ tool through a different method: 1) taking screenshots; (2) recording a screen video and; (3) checking and reporting the information. We present the challenges associated with the measures’ comparability across devices and operating systems and the preliminary results on task completion and engagement.

Semester 2021-2022

Presentation: 29 March 2022

“Conditions de vie de retraité·e·s vivant à l’étranger. Une analyse comparative qualitative des politiques publiques”
“Living conditions of retirees living abroad. A qualitative comparative analysis of public policies”

[Marion Repetti, HES-SO]

Presentation: 22 February 2022

“A new Polarization Index Developed by Means of “Crowdsourcing” of Expertise”

[Namkje Koudenburg, University of Groningen, The Netherlands]


Polarization is increasingly becoming an issue in today’s society, producing both unrest at the societal level, and conflict within small-scale communications between people of opposite opinion. Often, opinion polarization is conceptualized as the direct opposite of agreement and consequently operationalized as an index of dispersion. However, in doing so, researchers fail to account for the bimodality that is characteristic of a polarized opinion distribution. We introduce a “crowdsourcing” method that is aimed at developing and validating a new index of opinion polarization. The weights of this index were derived from utilizing the knowledge of 58 international experts on polarization through an expert survey. The resulting Opinion Polarization Index predicted expert polarization scores in opinion distributions better than common measures of polarization, such as the standard deviation, Van der Eijk’s polarization measure and Esteban and Ray’s polarization index.
In a second project, we use the polarization index to predict the communication intentions. In three representative samples from Australia and the Netherlands (N = 1,206), we examine whether perceived polarization predicts the quality (harmony, comfort, and experience of negative emotions) and quantity (avoidance of the issue) of communication with others in the community. We distinguish between perceived opinion polarization (i.e. the extent to which opinions in society are divided) and perceived structural polarization (i.e. the extent to which society fissions into subgroups). Results show that although opinion polarization positively predicts the discussion of societal issues, the belief that these opinions reflect a deeper societal divide predicts negative communication expectations and intentions. We discuss how polarization perceptions may reinforce communicative behaviors that catalyze actual polarization processes.

Presentation: 30 November 2021

“Data Quality in (Non-)Probability Online Panels: Evidence from a Large-Scale Study in Germany”

[Carina Cornesse, University of Mannheim, Germany]


For many decades, social science researchers almost exclusively relied on probability sample surveys when aiming to draw inferences to the general population. However, probability sample surveys are expensive and data collection is often slow. With the rise of the internet in the 21st century, therefore, it became popular to conduct fast and cheap surveys via online panels, which usually rely on web- recruited nonprobability samples. In academic circles, this has led to the reignition of an old debate about the (lack of) data quality in nonprobability sample surveys. This debate is ongoing and concerns many areas of social science research and practice. Most empirical evidence so far focuses on whether nonprobability online panels can provide a similar degree of accuracy in terms of univariate estimates as probability sample surveys. This research often ignores other aspects of data quality as well as the potential confounding effect of the survey mode on the results.

In this talk I build on the accumulated published evidence in the (non)probability sample survey debate, and add to it the insights we gained in our own large-scale online panel comparison study conducted at the University of Mannheim. This study involved three waves of parallel data collection in 10 German online panels. I focus on insights regarding so far under-researched data quality aspects, such as the fitness of (non)probability online panels for longitudinal research, the consistency of bivariate and multivariate results from (non)probability online panels with results from best-practice offline surveys, and potential differences between nonprobability and probability-based online panel respondents in terms of survey response behavior. I conclude the talk with a discussion of recent developments regarding the possibility of combining nonprobability and probability sample surveys.

Watch the video of the presentation

Presentation: 26 October, 2021

“Interactions with Panel Data: Implications of Different Specification Strategies”

[Marco Giesselmann, University of Zürich, Department of Sociology, Switzerland]


An interaction in a fixed effects (FE) regression is usually specified by demeaning the product term. How­ever, algebraic transformations reveal that this strategy does not yield a within-unit estimator. Instead, the standard FE interaction estimator reflects unit-level differences of both interacted variables. This property allows interactions of a time-constant variable and a time-varying variable in a Fixed Effects regression, but may yield unwanted results if both variables vary within units: when, for example, the interaction between income and having children on life satisfaction is modeled, the standard FE interaction estimator not only measures how within-household changes in income influence the effect of having children. It also measures how this effect differs between households with different (time-averaged) income levels. Therefore, it includes the moderating influence of time-constant unobservables correlated with income “(e.g., traditionalism, conservatism) on the effect of having children.

We introduce and discuss different demeaning strategies as alternatives to the standard FE interaction estimator for panel data. Each of these alternatives portrays different causal mechanisms, has different substantive implications, and will lead to different results. This is revealed on the basis of an SHP – research example dealing with the impact that children have on the marital wage premium

Presentation 28.09.2021

“PICE – A mixed-method TREE study: study design, methodological considerations and first results”

[Sandra Hupka-Brunner & Andres Gomensoro from the University of Bern (Switzerland)]


This presentation introduces the PICE project, Parental Investment in Children’s Education, which is a collaboration between the University of Bern and FORS. PICE is a mixed-method in-depth study of the youth longitudinal TREE (Transition from Education to Employment), relating the educational aspirations of youth and their parents to youth’s actual educational trajectories.

PICE is based on a mixed-method design in which quantitative data of the second TREE cohort are analyzed: TREE2 has been surveying adolescents at the end of compulsory schooling in 2016 about their educational pathways and since then assessed their employment trajectories on an annual basis. In addition, 4 years after leaving school, 71 adolescents and their parents (n=48) were interviewed using semi-structured interviews. The parents (n=39) were also interviewed again one year later. We will present the longitudinal mixed methods design and discuss some of the challenges we had to overcome, for example related to Corona and to data management.

On the content level, we will present some exemplary results, highlighting the added value of the mixed-method design for educational social sciences research more generally.

Presentation slides

By recent regulation of the Swiss Federal Council and until further notice, you will be required to present a valid Covid certificate for joining the seminar.

Semester 2020-2021

The Methods and Research meetings will take place from 12:15-13.30 via Zoom

Presentation 30.03.2021

“Web-Face-to-Face Mixed-Mode Design and Attrition in Longitudinal Surveys: some evidence from the UK Household Longitudinal Study”

[Annamaria Bianchi, Associate Professor of Economic and Business Statistics (University of Bergamo, Italy)]


This seminar considers two issues related to the construction and use of longitudinal panels: (1) the use of sequential mixed-mode designs, which are increasingly considered as an alternative to interviewer administered data collection; (2) attrition, which may threaten the validity of the estimates from the panels.
The first part of the seminar provides results on the effects of the introduction of a sequential web-face-to-face mixed-mode design over three waves of a longitudinal survey in which members were previously interviewed face-to-face (Bianchi et al., 2017). Findings are reported from a large-scale randomised experiment carried out on the UK Understanding Society Innovation Panel. As the mode experiment was interacted with an experiment on the use of incentives, results related to the impact of incentive strategies with respect to different modes are reported (Bianchi and Biffignandi, 2019b). Further, some recent findings on the use of different devices for the web data collection are also shown (Bianchi and Biffignandi, 2020).
The second part of the seminar deepens the knowledge on attrition in longitudinal panels making reference to three waves of the UK Household Longitudinal Study (Bianchi and Biffignandi, 2019a). While traditionally participation behaviour in panel surveys has been mostly studied with reference to socio-demographic variables and not distinguishing different components of the response process, the focus in the seminar is on the role of social indicators and personality traits in explaining contact and cooperation, beyond demographic variables


Annamaria Bianchi is Associate Professor of Economic and Business Statistics at the University of Bergamo (Italy).

For more information:

View the video of the presentation

Presentation slides

Presentation 23.02.2021

“Smart research in social sciences: The potential of smartphones and smart wearables in research on mobile media use among adolescents and young adults”
[Anne-Linda Camerini & Laura Marciano (USI Università della Svizzera italiana)]

Smartphones, and digital wearable devices in general, have become an essential part of our everyday life. The increasing pervasiveness of them has raised concerns about potential adverse effects of their use on adolescent well-being. To better understand the impact of mobile media, the smart devices offer a unique possibility to capture usage behaviors as well as the drivers of such behaviors, including emotional states and contextual factors. This presentation will provide an overview of the research I’ve conducted with my research team on the smartphone and with the smartphone and smart wearables. These are three studies: A study with 100 middle school adolescents automatically tracing their overall duration and frequency of smartphone use and collecting in-situ assessments on related concepts, a study with 65 young adults collecting their physiological reactions via a wearable device during a manipulated smartphone-mediated communication situation, and a study with 63 young adults using in-situ assessments via their smartphones to study their media use habits and psychological well-being during the lockdown period in Spring 2020 as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic. The presentation will showcase the implementation and selected results of these studies and discuss their potential, but it will also acknowledge the limitations and challenges of smartphones and smart wearables for research in the social sciences.

Anne-Linda Camerini is Researcher and Lecturer at the Faculty of Communication Sciences, Culture and Society at USI Università della Svizzera italiana, where she obtained her PhD in Health Communication in 2013. Before her activities at USI, Anne-Linda Camerini studied Communication and Media Sciences at the Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena (Germany) and the Università degli Studi di Urbino (Italy). She gained experience in applied media research and consultancy working as Project Manager at TelevisionResearchPartnership in the United Kingdom. Her research follows to major streams: 1) digital media use and its impact on the development and well-being of adolescents and young adults, and 2) health promotion and disease prevention with a specific focus on the role of health literacy. She has coordinated two SNF-funded projects in the first research stream, combining digital trace data, ecological momentary assessments, and physiological data with self-report measures.

Presentation 01.12.2020

“Where automation of text analysis makes sense and where not”
[Bruno Wüest (sotomo)]

As much as automated text analysis is en vogue, there are clear practical and conceptual limits to its application in social science research projects. The most common problems arise from unsuitable research designs or researchers with unrealizable demands with respect to the methods usually subsumed under the term automated text analysis.
During the presentation, I will discuss examples from research on election campaigns in traditional and social media, on framing of policies and democratic governance and on political protest events. This enables a critical reflection on the feasibility of a number of methods including pattern matching, unsupervised and supervised classification, relation mining, sentiment analysis, word embeddings as well as statistical and deep learning. Using both successful and failed applications of these techniques from my previous research, I will finally try to show which methods or combinations of methods make sense for which research projects.

Bruno Wüest studied political science and economic history at the University of Zurich. He earned his doctorate with a large-scale quantitative text analysis on the topic “The Politics of Economic Liberalization” (published by Palgrave Macmillan) and further developed various methods of automated text analysis during his years as a senior researcher at the University of Zurich. Articles and books he co-authored have been published by the American Journal of Political Science, European Journal of Political Research, West European Politics, Party Politics and Cambridge University Press. Since summer 2019 he works as data analyst at sotomo, mainly in the areas of data mining and machine learning.

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Presentation on 27.10.2020

“Cause commune: une co-construction des pratiques entre le terrain et la recherche”
[Emmanuelle Anex (Université de Lausanne]

Le projet Cause Commune vise à améliorer l’environnement social et la qualité de vie au sein de la commune de Chavannes-près-Renens en plein expansion urbaine. Il s’agit, dans ce cadre, d’anticiper les défis liés à la cohésion et à l’inclusion sociale en créant des conditions permettant « d’habiter la ville » de manière plus intégrative en prenant la mixité sociale et surtout générationnelle comme ressources. L’objectif principal de ce projet est de construire une méthodologie participative et novatrice dans la politique d’action sociale qui profite à la cohésion sociale, au bien-être et à la qualité de vie des habitants, dont les bénéfices secondaires attendus sont un effet sur l’amélioration de la santé psychique et physique des habitant-e-s de tous.

Dans ce cadre, les chercheur-e-s de l’UNIL (Centre LIVES) collaborent au programme par la mise en place d’une enquête longitudinale permettant de mesurer les effets de la participation citoyenne des habitants à des activités et par l’institution d’une plateforme de recherche, de consultation et d’évaluation du programme dans laquelle les différents acteurs sont impliqués ; les habitants, les travailleurs sociaux et les chercheurs. Il s’agit ainsi de mettre en place un cadre participatif avec les différents partenaires permettant des échanges continus et l’émergence d’une expertise citoyenne sur les thèmes, activités et autres aspects pris en considération. L’idée est bien de créer les conditions d’un « décloisonnement » des pratiques par le biais d’une action recherche participative.

Emmanuelle Anex travaille en tant que chargée de recherche au sein du Centre LIVES sur un projet d’action communautaire alliant recherche et terrain. Après sa thèse de doctorat en représentations sociales sur l’application des droits humains, ses intérêts de recherche portent plus particulièrement sur l’identité, les formes de citoyenneté participative et leurs enjeux en termes de qualité et de santé sociale ; c’est pour cette raison qu’elle s’est engagée dans ce projet particulier de Cause Commune. Parallèlement, Emmanuelle est impliquée dans des

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Presentation slides

Presentation on 29.09.2020

“Facing Big Data: methodological and analytical challenges of large-scale textual analyses”
[Sophie Mützel (University of Lucerne)]

The rise of big data indicates a “watershed moment for the social sciences”. Not only are we faced with large and multifarious types of data (e.g. texts, geo location, time stamps, entire full-text archives, pictures), often very unstructured, and stemming from all sorts of sources and phenomena, we are also challenged in our theoretical underpinnings of what constitutes the social and how we can analyze it. We are also witnessing the rise of methods that help to identify patterns and relations, and to reduce complexity. Tools and algorithms of computational linguistics, machine learning, and network analysis are challenging the traditional tool kits of social science methods that work with representative samples, independent observations, statistical significance or analysts’ privileged positions in local settings. The talk discusses some of the methodological and analytical challenges large-scale textual data pose to sociological analysis. It highlights challenges of data construction, algorithmic models of data analysis, and data interpretation using examples of empirical studies.  While indicating challenges, the talk is also certain to point out opportunities such approaches offer to sociological inquiries.

Sophie Mützel is Professor of Sociology at the Department of Sociology, University of Lucerne, Switzerland. She teaches on the sociology of algorithms, big data and social media, as well as on metrics in journalism and the digital economy within the study program on “media and networks”. Her research interests lie in the areas of big data and its analytics, in particular text analytics and network analysis, as well as economic and cultural sociology. She recently finished a book manuscript on “Markets from stories”. She is also the PI of the Swiss federal government funded NRP75 project “Facing big data: methods and skills for a 21st century sociology”.

Sophie studied Political Science at UC Berkeley, Sociology at Cornell University, and finished her PhD in Sociology at Columbia University. After completing her PhD, she held a Jean Monnet Fellowship at the European University Institute, Italy; afterwards she taught and conducted research at Humboldt-University Berlin and at the WZB Berlin Social Science Center. She has been a research fellow at Harvard University and held a visiting professorship at the University of Vienna.

Semester 2019/2020

The Methods and Research meetings will take place at 12:15-13.30 in room 5799 of the Geopolis building in the Mouline quarter. Also see here

Presentation on 29.10.2019

“Using diverse statistical lens to provide insights about the collaborative learning process”
[Jennifer Olsen (EPFL)]

Collaboration has been shown to effectively support learning when students engage in productive learning processes. However, students do not spontaneously engage in these beneficial processes and scaffolding needs to be provided to support students without inhibiting their existing collaboration skills. To provide adaptive collaboration support that aligns with students’ needs at the correct time, we need to model and understand the collaboration process. In this talk, I will present an experiment conducted with 84 students working on a fractions intelligent tutoring system in which we collected multimodal data including tutor log data, gaze data, and student dialogues. I will discuss how we aimed to understand the collaborative learning process through different methodological lenses including Additive Factors Models, Ganger Causality, and Extreme Value Theory. I conclude the talk with a comparison of the different methods and how they can inform our future development of collaboration support.

Dr. Jennifer Olsen is a postdoctoral researcher in the Computer-Human Interaction in Learning and Instruction Lab at EPFL. She received her PhD from Carnegie Mellon University in 2017 from the Human-Computer Interaction Institute where she was a fellow in the Program for Interdisciplinary Educational Research and a Siebel Scholar. Her research has been informed by her interdisciplinary background, which includes an undergraduate degree in Cognitive Science. Dr. Olsen’s research interests include investigating the support for student learning through the use of individual and collaborative learning and the support of technology integration into the classroom through classroom orchestration and learning analytics.

Presentation on 03.12.2019 (room 5408)

“Using record linkage in social science – challenges and approaches”
[Joe Sakshaug (German Institute for Employment Research)]

Linking survey data with administrative data is common practice in social science research. It enables researchers to answer important policy-relevant questions that would be difficult (or infeasible) to answer using survey data alone. However, the full potential of supplementing surveys with administrative data can only be realized if linkages between them are successfully performed. For various reasons (e.g. respondent non-consent), linkages to administrative data cannot be made for all survey respondents. Consequences of non-linkage include reduced analytic sample size and the potential for bias if respondents who can be linked differ from respondents who cannot be linked. Overcoming these challenges has mainly focused on post-survey adjustment strategies (e.g. weighting, imputation). Alternatively, some surveys have attempted to address the non-linkage issue at the survey design stage. In this talk, I review some of the factors found to influence the likelihood of achieving a successful linkage and discuss some strategies for improving linkage rates and adjusting for potential non-linkage biases.

Presentation on 25.02.2020

“Using social media data for social science research: What can we do and how?”
[Davide Morselli (University of Lausanne)]

Presentation on 31.03.2020 (Postponed due to COVID-19)

“Where automation of text analysis makes sense and where not”
[Bruno Wüest (Sotomo, Zürich)]

Presentation on 28.04.2020 (Postponed due to COVID-19)

“Smart research in social sciences: The potential of smartphones and smartwatches in research on mobile media use among adolescentes and young adults”
[Anne-Linda Camerini (Università della Svizzera Italiana)]

Semester 2018/2019

The Methods and Research meetings will take place at 12:15-13.30 in room 5799 of the Geopolis building in the Mouline quarter. Also see here

Presentation on 02.10.2018

“Agréger les échantillons d’une enquête multimode en limitant l’effet de mesure : une proposition d’imputation raisonnable et pragmatique”
Stéphane Legleye (INSEE, Paris)

Lorsque l’effet de mesure est important dans une enquête multimode qui doit être comparée à une enquête traditionnelle en mode unique, les concepteurs de l’enquête doivent faire des choix. Soit pondérer à nouveau l’enquête afin de tenir compte de l’effet de sélection en équilibrant les deux échantillons spécifiques au mode, soit imputer les réponses recueillies dans l’un des échantillons. Nous proposons une méthode simple pour mettre en œuvre la deuxième stratégie. Nous utilisons des données réelles: deux enquêtes aléatoires indépendantes ont été menées en 2013 pour étudier la victimisation (avec une série de questions communes) : une enquête traditionnelle en face à face (n=14585) et une autre sur Internet/papier (n=12896) qui a donné des taux de victimisation beaucoup plus élevé. Nous étudions une situation fictive où les deux ensembles de données sont combinés sans aucun prétraitement. Nous identifions d’abord les questionnaires Internet appariés à un jumeau face-à-face sur la base des caractéristiques socio-démographiques. Ensuite, nous identifions les paires de jumeaux dans lesquelles certaines victimisations diffèrent et impute les valeurs d’Internet. Les résultats montrent une diminution importante du taux de victimisation dans l’ensemble des données combinées, qui sont plus proches de celles calculées dans le cadre de l’enquête traditionnelle en face à face. L’efficacité, les limites et les combinaisons possibles avec d’autres méthodes sont discutées.

Presentation slides

Presentation on 06.11.2018

“Categorization of social trajectories using longitudinal data: Methodological and empirical dimensions of multidimensional sequence analysis”
[Jacques-Antoine Gauthier (UNIL)]

Presentation on 04.12.2018

“Crowdsourcing the campus, the city, and beyond”
[Daniel Gatica-Perez (EPFL)]

The engagement of youth in local concerns has educational, social, and economic implications. There is an entire open agenda of issues that human-centered computing research can contribute to. This spans data collection, analytics, and visualization. I will discuss my group’s recent research on mobile crowdsourcing, which integrates youth participation, smartphone sensing, machine learning of mobile sensor and media, and inference of properties of both urban spaces and everyday life patterns. We aim to deepen our understanding of how mobile and social technology can support communities and other stakeholders engaged for social good. I will also discuss how these approaches could support other researchers for their own scientific goals.

Presentation on 26.02.2019

“Pluralistic memories as a resource for conflict transformation? A mixed-methods approach”
[Sandra Penic (UNIL)]

Presentation on 26.03.1019

“How deductions undermine the redistribution effect of taxes – research with Swiss tax data”
[Oliver Hümbelin (Bern University of Applied Sciences)]


In many OECD countries, the inequality between the rich and the poor has increased in recent decades. Some authors put the blame on the withdrawal of the state, which is redistributing less and less through progressive taxes and social benefits. In comparative studies Switzerland is seen as a country with low economic inequality and low redistribution. At the same time, the analysis based on the tax statistics of the Federal Tax Administration shows a significant increase in inequality between and within individual cantons. Since a large proportion of direct taxes in Switzerland are regulated at the cantonal level, it seems appropriate to conduct welfare state analyses at this level. Tax data offer special opportunities with the level of detail of the tax data making it possible to examine direct effects of the progression of federal, cantonal and municipal taxes but also indirect effects of tax deductions. The main part of the talk presents empirical results from a large Swiss Canton to demonstrate this potential. Using a Gini-based redistribution effect decomposition, it is possible to gain a complete picture of the redistribution effects of the visible (tax rates) and hidden (tax deductions) fiscal instruments.

Presentation slides

Presentation on 30.04.2019

“Les archives de la télévision suisse romande : un terrain de recherche pour une sociologie du handicap?”
[Anne Marcellini  (UNIL)]

Semester 2017/2018

Presentation on 03.10.2017

“A new behavioural scale measuring social norms”
[Heiko Rauhut, (University of Zürich)]

Surveys usually measure normative behaviour and attitudes by asking whether some (un)desirable action has been performed in the past, and how this behaviour is evaluated. This may lead to biased estimates if the respondents have an incentive to over-report or under-report due to social desirability. Instead of relying on anonymising techniques to measure prosocial behaviour (e.g. RRT, item count) , we propose a complementing, truly behavioural measure of pro-social behaviour and beliefs. In a series of studies in different populations, we implemented the social value orientation slider measure (SVO) (Murphy et al. 2014) and our new norms scale NS4 (Rauhut et al. 2017) in an online survey. Both measures are based on small tasks in which the respondents distribute a sum of money between themselves and others, and are relatively easy to implement in a survey. Other than the SVO, the NS4 additionally asks for normative and empirical beliefs about what one will and should do. To validate our measures, we use a series of behavioural tasks, e.g. cheating about the outcome of a die or the willingness to answer additional questions, and correlate these control tasks with our new measures as well as with more traditional survey measures. Our results suggest that the new measures are a forceful predictor for constructs usually associated with normative behaviour, such as cheating, cooperation, or political attitudes, and may therefore be a valuable tool for future studies in the social sciences.

Presentation on 07.11.2017

“Studying people and society through large-scale online traces: the case of armed conflicts in online news”
[Robert West, (EPFL)]

Wars and conflicts have constituted major events throughout history. Despite their importance, the general public typically learns about such events only indirectly, through the lens of news media, which necessarily select and distort events before relaying them to readers. Quantifying these processes is important, as they are fundamental to how we see the world, but the task is difficult, as it requires working with large and representative datasets of unstructured news text in many languages. To address these issues, we propose a set of unsupervised methods for compiling and analyzing a multilingual corpus of millions of online news documents about armed conflicts. We then apply our methods to answer a number of research questions: First, how widely are armed conflicts covered by online news media in various languages, and how does this change as conflicts progress? Second, what role does the level of violence of a conflict play? And third, how well informed is a reader when following a limited number of online news sources? We find that coverage levels are different across conflicts, but similar across languages for a given conflict; that Middle Eastern conflicts receive more attention than African conflicts, even when controlling for the level of violence; and that for most languages and conflicts, following very few sources is enough to stay continuously informed. Finally, given the prominence of conflicts in the Middle East, we further analyze them in a detailed case study.
(Joint work with Jürgen Pfeffer from TU München.)

Presentation on 05.12.2017

“Using a mobile app to collect expenditure data: Participation, measurement and respondent experience”
[Annette Jaeckle, (Institute for Social and Economic Research, University of Essex)]



Presentation on 27.02.2018

“Dealing with the complexity of cross-national data: The potential of web probing to assess and explain mis­sing equivalence of comparative national identity measures”
[Katharina Meitinger, (GESIS, Mannheim)]

There has been a tremendous increase in cross-national data production in social science research in recent decades. Before drawing substantive conclusions based on cross-national survey data, researchers need to verify whether the measures are indeed comparable. Quantitative measurement invariance tests are an important control tool for researchers working with cross-national data. However, this approach does not provide explanations if data is found noninvariant and it cannot assess the comparability of single-item measures.

The recently developed qualitative method of web probing can supplement a quantitative assessment and reveal why measures are incomparable. This presentation will introduce the method of web probing and present three applications of web probing for the evaluation of cross-national data: as an assessment tool for single-item measures; in combination with traditional measurement invariance tests using multi-group confirmatory factor analysis; and its contribution to the current discussion on approximate measurement invariance. This presentation uses substantive examples from the field of national identity and will discuss the comparability of the measures of general national pride, patriotism and nationalism as well as patriotic feelings from the 2013 International Social Survey Program (ISSP) module on “National Identity.”


Presentation on 27.03.2018

“Analyse des réseaux sociaux et oeuvres de fiction : lecture distante de systèmes de personnages”
[Yannick Rochat, (University of Lausanne)]

Nous présentons une revue des travaux portant sur les réseaux de personnages de la littérature, soit la modélisation sous forme de données relationnelles de systèmes de personnages. Nous illustrerons larevue à l’aide d’exemples issus de la littérature ainsi qu’avec des résultats originaux.Cette approche de lecture intermédiaire et distante permet à la recherche en humanités numériques de s’intéresser à la représenta tion des personnages avec des corpus de taille importante, nécessitant ainsi l’automatisation des méthodes d’exploration des données. Elle permet de tirer des conclusions sur les configurations exhibées par les entités des œuvres littéraires au travers de relations construites entre elles.

En conclusion de la présentation, nous proposerons un framework visant à classer les types d’analyses déjà réalisées et soulignant les questions de recherche à entrevoir pour l’avenir de cette approche.


Presentation on 24.04.2018

“An Introduction to Factorial Designs Using the Example of Hiring Decisions”
[Robin Samuel, (University of Luxembourg)]

In this contribution, we use a factorial design to explore the moderating role of transaction costs on scarring due to previous unemployment and skills underutilization. Furthermore, we investigate the extent to which the perceived difficulty of recruiting moderates these effects. Factorial designs allow studying respondents’ evaluations as a function of multidimensional stimuli. In this application, we create a pool of hypothetical candidates, where we experimentally vary individual characteristics of young job applicants. We then measure how our respondents, actual recruiters, evaluate the hiring chances of these young people. We further use information provided by the respondents to estimate transaction costs.

Using data from a recent large-scale factorial survey of recruiters in four European countries (N ~ 2, 000) and employing multilevel linear regression
models, we found, overall, scarring due to skills underutilization to exceed scarring due to unemployment. Skills underutilization was especially penalized when recruiting for a particular position was considered easy. Indirect transaction costs, particularly anticipated time required for organizational socialization, were negatively associated with unemployment scarring, but positively with scarring due to skill underutilization. Unemployment spells only had a negative effect on hiring chances for jobs where there were monetary expenses for introductory trainings.

Presentation slides

Semester 2016/2017
Presentation on 04.10.2016
“Methodological challenges in international research with centenarians”
[Daniela Jopp, (UNIL)]

The number of very old individuals, including centenarians, has increased substantially over the past decade, and this trend is likely to continue, as every second child born after the year 2000 is expected to reach age 100. Yet, research with very old individuals involves various challenges, including usability of standard measures with individuals who may have somewhat limited cognitive capacity, or inclusion of individuals who lack any communicative skills. This presentation will highlight methodological issues related to centenarian research with respect to design (focus on centenarians, focus on proxy informants, use of both centenarian and proxy), assessment approach (mixed methods, adjustment of standard measures), and analysis (suitable control group), and will make proposals how to deal with these issues on the basis of the experiences collected in the context of an international network of centenarian studies established in 2012.

Click here to view the presentation

Presentation on 01.11.2016
“Prediction of the quality of survey questions using the program SQP: Background and applications”
[Melanie Revilla, University Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona]

On average, 50% of the observed variance in answers to survey questions is due to measurement error (Alwin, 2007). However, the size of the error can vary a lot depending on the exact formulation of the survey questions and the language. One approach to estimate the size of measurement errors is the Survey Quality Predictor (SQP). This software allows predicting the characteristics of survey questions by coding their formal and linguistic characteristics.

In this presentation, I will introduce the problem of measurement errors, before briefly presenting standard approaches to measure such errors. Then, I will present the background behind the SQP software, as well as its uses. Finally, I will illustrate how to correct for measurement errors and the effect on the substantive results.

Click here to view the presentation

Presentation on 06.12.2016
“A New Data Set for the Analysis of Migration and Integration in Switzerland”
[Ilka Steiner, University of Geneva]

To fully understand migratory flows, their determinants and their consequences researchers increasingly use methods based on life course – or longitudinal – approaches. The introduction of the social security number in 2010 in the Swiss administrative data and a new decree, which came into force in 2013, regulating data linkage for statistical purpose, allows today the development of longitudinal statistics based on population registers and official surveys. This presentation reviews the process leading to the creation of a new longitudinal data set for the analysis of migration and integration in Switzerland. We first describe its conceptual framework, by presenting the different available registers and the target population. Second, we discuss the data linkage and the validation procedures. Finally, we show an example of a possible application.

Click here to view the presentation


Presentation on 28.02.2017
The design and practice of research with Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA)”
[Martino Maggetti, University of Lausanne]

Recent years have witnessed a host of innovations for Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA). This presentation (mostly based on current work by Eva Thomann and myself) aims at reviewing, systematizing and clarifying different approaches, challenges, and tools regarding the design of QCA-oriented research. In this regard, I will first introduce the nuts and bolts of QCA as an approach and as a technique. Afterwards, I will turn to the trade-offs that characterize different emerging approaches to QCA, as well as to the importance of doing justice to the nature and goals of QCA in each specific research context.

Presentation on 28.03.2017
“A data mining approach to longitudinal risk assessment, with application in cognitive epidemiology”
[Stephen Aichele, University of Geneva]

Research on psychological aging is easily confounded by problems related to participant attrition (e.g., due to dropout or death) and by complex interrelations among the variables investigated. Numerous statistical methods are available to address these issues (e.g., imputation to handle missing data, multi-level models for estimation of longitudinal change), but investigators in the behavioral sciences have only recently begun to discover the benefits of including machine learning techniques alongside more traditional approaches. One such technique is random forest analysis (RFA), which is especially effective for estimating the relative influence of numerous predictors in relation to an outcome of interest. The first part of this presentation will provide an overview of RFA as a valuable analytic tool. The second part of the presentation will demonstrate the use of RFA for predicting mortality risk and cerebral white matter lesion burden in a large sample (N = 6203; n = 112 with brain data) longitudinal study (> 20 years) of older adults.

Click here to view the presentation

Presentation on 25.04.2017
Experimental designs for studying social norms”
[Heiko Rauhut, University of Zurich]


Click here to view the flyer of all meetings

Semester 2015/2016
Presentation on 6.10.2015

“Observing the unobservable in a stepwise approach: Teasing out causal effects through panel data” (Abstract below)

[Sinisa Hadziabdic, (UNIGE)]

Click here to view the presentation.


Presentation on 3.11.2015

Running with the devil: On the use and misuse of bibliometrics and how social science research can benefit from bibliometrics

[Michael Ochsner, (FORS)]

Click here to view the presentation.


Presentation on 1.12.2015

What matters in differences between life trajectories? A comparative review of sequence dissimilarity measures.

[Matthias Studer/Gilbert Ritschard (UNIGE)]

Click here to view the presentation.

[Associated publication: Studer, M. and Ritschard, G. (2015), What matters in differences between life trajectories: a comparative review of sequence dissimilarity measures. Journal of the Royal Statistical Society: Series A (Statistics in Society).]


Presentation on 23.02.2016

“Advantages and disadvantages of mixing modes of data collection in cross-national surveys”

[Ana Villar, (City University London, United Kingdom)]

Click here to view the presentation.


Presentation on 22.3.2016

Quels critères de qualité pour la recherche qualitative en sciences de la santé

[Marie Santiago/Christine Bruchez, (SSP, UNIL)]

Click here to view the presentation.


Presentation on 26.4.2016

Methodological challenges in international research with centenarians

[Daniela Jopp, (SSP, UNIL)]

This presentation moved to Semester 2016/2017


Presentation on 24.5.2016

Utilisation des registres pour les analyses longitudinales dans le domaine de la formation; présentation du programme de l’OFS

[Jacques Babel/Francesco Laganà, (Swiss Federal Statistical Office)]

Semester 2014/2015
Presentation on 7.10.2014
The SOEP Innovation Sample: Scope, structure, and application requirements

[David Richter, (DIW Berlin)]

The research infrastructure SOEP at DIW Berlin established a longitudinal Innovation Sample (SOEP-IS) in 2012 for particularly innovative research projects. The SOEP-IS is primarily available for methodical and thematic research that involves too much of a risk of high non-response rates for the long-term SOEP study. The SOEP-IS will be established in the period from 2012 to 2017 and should be fully developed by 2017 (with a cumulative target size of N=5,000 households). Starting with the 2013 survey, the SOEP determined the contents of SOEP-IS through a competitive refereed application process for the “best” research questions and their operationalizations. We offer researchers at universities and research institutes worldwide the opportunity to use this sample for their innovative research projects, thereby helping us to shape the catalog of questions in the SOEP and obtaining the resulting data very rapidly for their own analysis. SOEP-IS is well suited to short-term experiments, but it is particularly useful for long-term surveys that are not possible in the framework of the core SOEP—whether because the instruments are not yet established or because the questions deal with very specific research issues.

Further information about SOEP-IS in general is published in David Richter, Jürgen Schupp. 2012. SOEP Innovation Sample (SOEP-IS) – Description, Structure and Documentation. SOEP papers 463.

Presentation on 4.11.2014
Penser l’ethnographie dans le temps long: A quoi sert de répéter les observations et les entretiens ?

[Pierre-Emmanuel Sorignet (SSP)]

Après un retour rapide sur ma socialisation à la sociologie et à l’enquête ethnographique afin de situer de quelle position je parle, je proposerais de réfléchir à l’intérêt de l’enquête de longue durée sur trois plans:
1. Faire dialoguer les dimensions synchronique et diachronique de l’enquête et rompre avec la fausse opposition entre sociologie des “situations” et des dispositions.
2. Redonner toute sa place à l’intérêt de l’entretien ethnographique, dans la filiation de la réflexion menée par Stéphane Beaud, en montrant la variation des discours sur soi des enquêtés en fonction de leur position occupée dans le temps de l’enquête.
3. Réfléchir à la spécificité du rapport enquêteur-enquêté dans ce cadre de longue durée
Je m’appuierais sur l’enquête que menée depuis plus de quinze ans sur les danseurs contemporains et mon insertion récente dans le champ chorégraphique suisse.

Presentation on 2.12.2014
La photographie en sciences sociales : de l’objet à l’outil. Panorama des méthodes de la sociologie visuelle

[Michaël Meyer (SSP)]

A mesure que les images deviennent une partie intégrante et essentielle de la culture des jeunes générations, dans un société elle-même envahie par les images, l’impératif se fait sentir d’incorporer concrètement les images à la palette des méthodes d’investigation de la sociologie. Si les dernières années ont vu se multiplier aux États-Unis et en Europe les initiatives académiques visant à discuter l’intérêt des « méthodes visuelles », beaucoup de ces discussions ont porté sur des questions de principe (fiabilité des images, pertinence relative par rapport au texte, etc.) et relativement peu sur les expérimentations concrètes et les enjeux techniques de cette instrumentation visuelle.
Mon intervention évoquera en particulier les relations entre photographie et sciences sociales. Je rappellerai tout d’abord certains antécédents, plus nombreux qu’on ne le pense, d’utilisation de la photographie dans des enquêtes sociologiques et ethnographiques. Je détaillerai ensuite différents exemples d’usages actuels de la photographie en situation d’enquête. Cet itinéraire illustré me conduira à interroger les situations d’enquête produites par l’utilisation des images dans celle-ci. Photographier sur le terrain, tout comme utiliser des images pour la restitution de résultats, n’est ni neutre ni sans conséquence sur le mode de questionnement ou la dynamique de la recherche.

Presentation on 24.02.2015
Recruiting and maintaining a probability-based internet panel in France : the ELIPSS pilot study

[Anne Cornilleau and Anne-Sophie Cousteaux (Sciences Po, Paris)]

During the last decade, the internet has moved from an attractive data collection mode to a common way to administer surveys. The ELIPSS Panel (Étude longitudinale par internet pour les sciences sociales) is one of the probability-based web panels across Europe. This presentation focuses on the challenges in setting up a probability-based web panel and the lessons learned from the pilot study. First, we will discuss the results of the recruitment procedure used in 2012. Then, we will point out the opportunities offered by ELIPSS to the researchers to collect data, and will present some examples of surveys using specific features of the tablet. Finally, we will address the issues of maintaining the participation and will present some specifications for the management of the panel.

Presentation on 24.03.2015
Correspondence analysis as a tool to perform the embedded actor. An example from mobilities studies”

[Katharina Manderscheid (UniLU)]

The presentation will focus on linking theory and methods and deal with implicit theoretical assumptions of statistical techniques. In particular, drawing on mobilities research, I will discuss the conceptualisation of spatial mobility as a relational practice, embedded in social, spatial and structural contexts. This relational understanding of social practices stands in opposition to conscious and rational subjects as authors of action and behaviour. Furthermore, I am drawing on antipositivist and performative understandings of science and understand methods and methodologies as an extension of theoretical axiomes. In this view, methods (co-)constitute their object of research. Against this background, I will finally present a multiple correspondence analysis of patterns of residential mobility and commuting in Switzerland. Since correspondence analysis excavates patterns of categories within the data and, through the projection of passive variables into the
geometric spaces, allows for an exploration of underlying structuring dimensions, it seems to be a suitable translation of the theoretical assumptions in mobilities research.

Presentation on 28.04.2015
Identifier l’ordre social dans l’organisation conversationnelle

[Esther González-Martínez (UNIFR)]

En se parlant, les individus donnent forment a leur échange, produisent des activités en commun et font émerger des entités sociales telles que les identités et les relations qui les caractérisent. Fondée par les sociologues américains Harvey Sacks, Emanuel Schegloff et Gail Jefferson (1974), l’analyse de conversation sert à étudier les interrelations entre l’organisation de la parole-en-interaction, la production de l’action et l’accomplissement du social. Cette présentation porte sur une recherche en cours qui mobilise l’analyse de conversation, ainsi que du travail ethnographique, pour examiner des conversations téléphoniques entre des infirmières et d’autres membres du personnel de l’hôpital. Elle se concentre en particulier sur les appels au Service qui s’occupe de transporter les patients. Nous mettrons en évidence les liens entre l’organisation conversationnelle des appels et l’organisation du transport en insistant sur des aspect d’économie temporelle. A partir de conversations qui durent à peine quelques secondes, nous explorons ainsi une dimension fondamentale de l’ordre social à l’hôpital (Reddy et al. 2006, Strauss et al. 1985, Zerubavel 1979).

Presentation on 26.05.2015
Exploration, selling pitch and deliverable; the promises of visualization

[Andréas Perret (FORS)]

This presentation focuses on the use of visualizations by social scientists, such as graphical representations of quantities. We will first trace the use of images by founding figures from classical through modern (robust) statistics. Our presentation will follow with short review scholars that have emerged in the more recent history of visualization literacy. In addition we discuss several controversies that have arisen within scientific visualization up to the latest attempts of crafting rules designed to provide a framework in which scientists should transform data into figures. Our analysis concentrates on the tools used to produce graphs, specifically how these instruments and researchers are mutually influenced, either in an asynchronic way (such as default software settings orienting users actions, but also due user communities influencing tools development) or in a synchronic way, when interactivity with vizualisation tools becomes a model for knowledge creation.

Semester 2013/2014

Presentation on 1.10.2013
Analyser de grands corpus de controverses sur le web: le cas de l’identité nationale en France

[Pascal Marchand (University of Toulouse)]

Le « grand débat sur l’identité nationale » restera sans doute comme l’une des polémiques majeures du quinquennat 2007-2012. Mais s’il a fait couler beaucoup d’encre, ce débat n’avait jamais été vraiment analysé. Le ministre et ses sondeurs se sont attachés à répondre aux détracteurs du débat et à en défendre la légitimité, mais comment les Français ont-ils finalement traité la question « qu’est-ce qu’être Français aujourd’hui ? ». Comment rendre compte des 18 240 contributions publiées sur le site web ? Le ministre avait proposé de les résumer ainsi : « être Français, c’est avoir des droits et des devoirs ». Quant aux sondeurs, ils publiaient un compte-rendu d’une remarquable pauvreté méthodologique et technique. L’informatique et la statistique textuelles permettent d’analyser de tels discours et spécifiquement de gros corpus. Plus précisément, l’analyse par Iramuteq, un logiciel universitaire gratuit, libre et opensource, développé à Toulouse par Pierre Ratinaud, permet de rendre compte du contenu de toutes les contributions, sans piocher au hasard dans la masse, ni faire intervenir nos propres préjugés. Il s’agit de reconnaître et de trier automatiquement le vocabulaire utilisé par les internautes pour obtenir des classes de discours. Et les conclusions sont très différentes de celles du ministre et de ses sondeurs : on découvre des psychologies, des histoires, des expériences, des éruditions et des prises de position d’une rare intensité. Des discours nationalistes et xénophobes ? Il y en a, et sans précautions, ni euphémismes. Certains y applaudissent l’initiative du ministre et de son gouvernement, d’autres dénoncent ce débat et ses sous-entendus politiciens. Certains décrivent une France historique et ses références obligées. D’autres livrent des témoignages poignants d’adhésion aux valeurs d’ouverture et de fraternité. Y compris de la part de personnes qui viennent d’ailleurs et expriment leur attachement à ce pays. Certains ne comprennent pas cette question à l’heure de l’Europe et de la mondialisation, et d’autres marquent leur attachement à leur région. Non, décidément, ce débat ne peut pas être ramené à un slogan simpliste et la statistique textuelle nous invite à cette découvrir cette complexité et à visiter ses mondes lexicaux.



Presentation on 5.11.2013
The Day Reconstruction Method: Linking time-use with emotional well-being

[Michael Ingenhaag (IEMS, UniL)]

The main goal of this study is to describe the association between disability and experienced well-being among older persons from different low and middle income countries. Specifically, we examine differences in the assessment of emotional affects and the allocation of time associated with disability applying the Day Reconstruction Method (Kahneman et al., 2004). Disabled people report lower emotional affects during all activities. Disability is further associated with more time spent in leisure and self-care activities and less time in work-related activities. We then combine these results regarding emotional affects and time allocation associated with disability in order to analyze the relation between time allocation, emotional affects and experienced well-being. Average experienced well-being is lower for disabled individuals. However, the results provide evidence for partially compensatory effects of differences in time allocation and emotional affects associated with disability. We show that the substitution of less pleasant work-related activities by more pleasant leisure activities associated with disability partially compensates the negative effect of lower emotional affects on experienced well-being.

Presentation Ingenhaag 2013


Presentation on 3.12.2013
Principes et analyses du signal électroencéphalographique (EEG): les relations entre les changement des rythmes corticaux et les comportement perceptivo-moteurs

[Jérôme Barral (SSP, UniL)]

L’enregistrement électroencéphalographique (EEG) est une méthode non-invasive qui permet d’étudier la réactivité du signal électrocortical en lien avec des tâches cognitives ou motrices. Ce signal spontané produit par le cerveau correspond à un ensemble d’ondes oscillatoires dont les variations d’amplitude sont interprétées en fonction de la tâche demandées, de la bande de fréquence d’intérêt et de la localisation sur le scalp. Du point de vue expérimental, la qualité de l’interprétation d’un tel signal requiert certaines contraintes méthodologiques. Des exemples sur les mécanismes perceptifs et moteurs viendront illustrer ces aspects de méthodes.
The electroencephalographic recording (EEG) is a non-invasive method that allows studying the electrocortical signal’s reactivity for cognitive- or motor-related tasks. This signal is spontaneously produced by the brain and corresponds to a set of oscillatory waves. Changes in amplitude of these waves can be interpreted according the requested task, the frequency band of interest and the localization on the scalp. From an experimental point of view, the quality of the interpretation of such a signal requires some methodological constraints. This talk will be illustrated with examples from perceptual and motor mechanisms.

Presentation Barral 2013


Presentation on 28.01.2014
Sensitive Questions in Online Surveys: An Experimental Comparison of the RRT and the Crosswise Model

[Ben Jann (UniBE)]

Self-administered online surveys provide a higher level of privacy protection to respondents than surveys administered by an interviewer. Yet, studies show that asking sensitive questions is problematic also in self-administered mode. Because respondents might not be willing to reveal the truth and provide answers that are subject to social desirability bias, the validity of prevalence estimates of sensitive behaviors gained via online surveys can be challenged. A well-known method to combat these problems is the Randomized Response Technique (RRT). However, convincing evidence that the RRT provides more valid estimates than direct questioning in online mode is still lacking. Moreover, an alternative approach called the Crosswise Model (CM) has recently been suggested to overcome some of the deficiencies of the RRT. We therefore conducted an experimental study in which different implementations of the RRT and the CM have been tested and compared to direct questioning. Our study is a large-scale online survey on sensitive behaviors by students such as cheating in exams and paper plagiarism. The results of the study reveal poor performance of the RRT, while the CM yielded significantly higher estimates of sensitive behaviors than direct questioning. We conclude that the CM is a promising approach for asking sensitive questions in self-administered surveys.



Presentation on 25.2.2014
Utiliser des méthodes mixtes dans la recherche par étude de cas

[Isabel Valarino (ISS, UniL)]

La présentation porte sur l’utilisation de méthodes mixtes dans la recherche par étude de cas, en se basant sur une recherche qui analyse l’adoption et l’utilisation du congé paternité dans une entreprise romande. Le but est d’une part, à travers cette illustration, présenter quelques uns des enjeux propres à la recherche par étude de cas (ses avantages et inconvénients), ainsi que ceux liés à la sélection du cas d’étude. D’autre part, l’objectif est de montrer l’utilité de recourir à des méthodes mixtes d’analyse (qualitatives et quantitatives) dans la recherche par étude de cas. L’analyse de séquences et de cluster, à partir de données de registre de l’entreprise sur la prise de congé paternité (N=95), est combinée à l’analyse thématique d’entretiens semi-directifs menés avec des employés ayant bénéficié du congé (n=22). Cette combinaison permet d’avoir une compréhension plus approfondie du phénomène étudié, en l’occurrence l’utilisation du congé paternité.

Presentation Valarino 2013


Presentation on 25.3.2014
Mixed methods in action: best and worst practices

[Jörg Stolz (FTSR, UniL)]

Mixed Methods, that is some sort of integration of quantitative and qualitative methods, are increasingly used in the social sciences. While mixed methods seem to be very attractive in theory, to accomplish a successful integration of various kinds of methods and data is often hard. This paper focuses on “best and worst practices” in actual mixed methods research. Using various examples, I argue that successful integration is accomplished by “parallelizing” the design, by using “one logic of inference” and by putting the most important emphasis on the research question (and not the mixing).



Presentation on 29.4.2014
Obtaining Party Positions on Immigration: Comparing Different Methods

[Didier Ruedin (UniNE)]

To what extent it is possible to obtain party positions (on immigration) when there is only a limited amount of political text available? The paper compares different methods (variations of: experts, manual coding, automatic coding), paying special attention to comparability across countries (N=8) and time (N=20).

Presentation Ruedin 2013


Presentation on 27.5.2014
Multiple Imputation of Missing Values: Why, how and the Do’s and Don’ts

[Michael Ochsner (FORS)]

Missing data occur in almost all survey research. Many researchers are often uncomfortable with the treatment of these missing data or ignore the missingness right away. However, inadequate handling of the missing data can lead to biased estimates of parameters such as means or regression coefficients as well as their standard errors and, hence, can distort inference. In this presentation I will demonstrate that “no treatment” of missing data does not exist, in fact, ignoring missingness (i.e. complete case analysis) is a treatment based on rather strong assumptions. I will then focus on multiple imputation as a possible treatment of missing data by introducing the basic idea behind it and presenting some do’s and don’ts of its implementation. Instead of using simulated data, I will work with examples based on ESS data to illustrate the effects of different treatments.


Semester 2012/2013

Presentation on 25.09.2012
Model-based Clustering and Classification; presentation of the Mixmod software
[Gilles Celeux (INRIA, France)]
This talk is devoted to the presentation of the mixture model for cluster analysis, semi supervised and supervised classification. The advantages of this model to answer the selection issues involved in clustering and classification with continuous, discrete or mixed data will be highlighted. EM-like algorithms to derive the parameter estimates will be presented. The numerous versatile and parsimonious useful mixture models will be described. Some emphasis will be placed on the relevant model selection criteria, depending of the focus of the analysis, ground in this model-based setting. The features of the Mixmod software ( and its recent interface RMixmod with R ( will be presented.
Presentation Gilles Celeux

Presentation on 30.10.2012
The R-indexes as a complementary measure of data quality? Application to the Swiss ESS 2010 data
[Caroline Roberts and Caroline Vandenplas (FORS/UNIL)]
The only indication of data quality found in many reports is the response rate. It is however known that response rates are a poor estimator of non-response bias and this practice is more and more criticized. Therefore, researchers in the Netherlands have developed an alternative quality measure: R-indexes or R-indicators where “R” stands for representativity. These measures are based on variables known for respondents and non-respondents (typically socio-demographic variables). Since 2010, some FORS surveys have benefited from the Swiss Federal Statistical Office register as a sampling frame. This register contains some information like gender, age or marital status that are thus available for all sampled individuals, respondents and non-respondents. Some of the advantages and remaining issues of this new measure will be illustrated using ESS 2010 data.
Presentation Caroline Vandenplas

Presentation on 27.11.2012
First steps towards a software framework for handling life course survey data in R
[Emmanuel Rousseaux (University of Geneva)]
Population studies strongly rely on survey data and much time is needed to prepare the data. The job is even harder for longitudinal data and network data. From a general point of view, the Dataset project aims at facilitating the management of survey data by providing researchers in social sciences with high-level tools for storing, sharing, exploring and recoding survey data in a secure and efficient way. The toolbox comes as a series of R packages. The software allows to store detailed descriptions for each variable and variable values and then can generate a full codebook directly exported as a PDF file that proves particularly useful for sharing data with others. As key functionalities, the toolbox accepts user-defined missing values, natively account for weights, helps to search for specific variables across the whole data base, and process automatic checks to prevent the loss of representativeness when filtering out cases. The software also provides some specific data-analysis tools such as bivariate association measures, front-end to tree-based methods and a logistic regression method. For all methods provided the toolbox generates nice summary tables easily exportable in PDF format. In this presentation we introduce the main functionalities of the Dataset toolbox, and discuss the functionalities forthcoming for specific handling of panel data, especially for life course analysis. We will use data from the Swiss Household Panel.
Presentation Emmanuel Rousseaux

Presentation on 11.12.2012
Etudier l’engagement militant à l’aide de récits de vie. Quelques réflexions tirées d’une recherche sur l’UDC
[Philippe Gottraux (UNIL)]
Sur la base d’une recherche achevée consacrée à l’engagement militant au sein de l’Union démocratique du centre (Philippe Gottraux et Cécile Péchu, Militants de l’UDC. La diversité sociale et politique des engagés, Lausanne, Antipodes, 2011), nous reviendrons sur diverses opérations de recherche (construction de l’objet ; types de données et modalités d’analyses ; réflexivité, etc.) et accessoirement sur quelques résultats. L’idée sous-jacente sera alors de montrer les apports d’une démarche qualitative pour l’étude d’un tel objet politique, apports trop souvent impensés ou sous-estimés dans la science politique suisse « classique ».
Presentation Philippe Gottraux

Presentation on 29.01.2013
Spatially weighted context data with the R package spacom: Studying the indirect impact of war on well being of young adults in ex‐Yugoslavia
[Sandra Penic (UNIL)]
In multilevel models, geographic space is divided into discrete, often arbitrarily defined units with fixed boundaries. Such a practice ignores the fact that there are usually important social, economic, and institutional ties that link residents from different units. The closer that these units are and/or the stronger the links between their residents, the more they are likely to influence each other. In order to address this issue, a new approach to contextual analysis has been developed: the spatially weighted context data approach. The approach complements classical multilevel analyses, by allowing for the study of spatial dimensions of contextual influences. The R package spacom has been developed by an interdisciplinary team in Lausanne to facilitate the use of the spatially weighted context data approach. Spacom’s functions can be used to construct and describe spatially weighted context data, to introduce spatially weighted contextual indicators in multilevel models (and estimate models through bootstrap procedures that provide robust point estimates and standard errors), and to diagnose spatial dependency in residuals from multilevel models. In my talk, I will illustrate the use of spatially weighted context data with spacom by the study of the impact of collective war victimization and economic exclusion on life satisfaction of young adults in post-war Yugoslavia.
Presentation Sandra Penic

Presentation on 26.3.2013
Cost-benefit estimation when choosing an apprenticeship offer Evidence from a choice experiment
[David Glauser (University of Berne)]
Despite the fact that a high portion of juveniles attending vocational education and training (VET) after compulsory school in German speaking cantons, little is known about why juveniles opt for certain apprenticeships and how they balance pros and cons when they can choose between several apprenticeship offers. The aim of the presentation is to shed light on these questions using a survey-based choice experiment. Data from the DAB-Panel study ( on vocational and educational decisions at the end of compulsory school is used. The effects of the attributes used in the choice experiment are estimated with conditional logit models.
Presentation David Glauser

Presentation on 30.4.2013
Child development and child care: Marginal treatment effects
[Rafael Lalive (UNIL)]
Many countries are currently expanding access to child care for young children. But are all children equally likely to benefit from such expansions? We address this question by adopting a marginal treatment effects framework. We study the West German setting where high quality center-based care is severely rationed and use within state differences in child care supply as exogenous variation in child care attendance. Data from the German Socio-Economic Panel provides comprehensive information on child development measures along with detailed information on child care, mother-child interactions, and maternal labor supply. Results indicate strong differences in the effects of child care with respect to observed characteristics (children’s age, birth weight and socio-economic background), but less so with respect to unobserved determinants of selection into child care. Underlying mechanisms are a substitution of maternal care with center-based care, an increase in average quality of maternal care, and an increase in maternal earnings.
Presentation Rafael Lalive

[(Flyer 2012/2013)] (PDF – 1 Mo)

[(Presentation Caroline Vandenplas)] (PDF – 13 Mo)

[(Presentation Emmanuel Rousseaux)] (PDF – 599.4 ko)

[(Presentation Lalive)](PDF – 2.9 Mo)

Semester 2011/2012

Program Flyer 2011/2012

Presentation on 27.09.2011
Le modèle de Poisson avec sur-représentation de zéros. Une application démographique
Reto Schumacher (SES, Unige)
La modélisation de taux démographiques, définis comme le rapport entre un nombre d’événements démographiques et un nombre de personne-années d’exposition au risque de l’événement en question (event-exposure rate), se fait de manière générale à l’aide de modèles de comptages tels que le modèle de Poisson. Dans cet exposé, il est montré comment la considération de la problématique de la sur-dispersion (overdispersion, ou unobserved heterogeneity), souvent négligé par les démographes, permet d’innover en matière de modélisation démographique. La présentation porte notamment sur le modèle de Poisson avec sur-représentation de zéros. Son application aux taux de fécondité par âge et par rang de naissance atteint permet d’identifier, dans une population transitionnelle, les sous-groupes pratiquant un contrôle d’arrêt de la fécondité.
Presentation Reto Schumacher

Presentation on 26.10.2011
Underrepresentation of Minorities in Swiss Surveys – Evidence to motivate a new Research Initiative
Francesco Laganà (FORS/LINES, Unil)
We present the main results from a FORS-LINES working group that in the last three years has studied the representation of national minorities in general social surveys. Using data from three major Swiss surveys (the Swiss part of the European Social Survey, the Swiss Household Panel, and the Swiss Labor Force Survey), we first address whether national minorities are correctly represented by these surveys and which are the characteristics of the under-represented populations; second we analyze how the solutions proposed in the methodological literature and applied within the surveys correct for such bias. More specifically, we evaluate three potential strategies aimed at reducing bias: strategies to increase response rates, the use of pre- and post-stratification measures taking into account the overall share of foreigners in the national population, and finally offering questionnaires in additional languages. Focusing on cross-sectional bias and attrition, we show that national minorities from non-neighboring countries are largely under-represented and that such under-representation is more severe for those with lower educational levels. We find that the use of measures that are directly targeted at increasing the social and cultural heterogeneity of survey samples are the most promising in order to get an unbiased picture of minority populations. Starting from such findings we present the outline of a more general project aiming at broadening the field of research on other type of minorities that are generally under-represented in social surveys and to open the black box of the different mechanisms producing bias in social surveys.

Presentation on 29.11.2011
Les défis de la complexité : Interdisciplinarité et méthodes mixtes
Michele Poretti, Institut Kurt Bösch
Si l’on s’accorde volontiers sur les opportunités offertes par l’utilisation d’approches interdisciplinaires et de méthodes mixtes – elles permettraient, notamment, de mieux approcher la complexité du réel – les défis pratiques liés à leur mise en œuvre sont rarement analysés. Qu’est-ce que cela veut dire, concrètement, de conduire une recherche interdisciplinaire ? Quels sont les opportunités et les limites liés à l’utilisation de plusieurs cadres théoriques et/ou méthodes ? Comment dépasser les tensions entre différentes conceptions épistémologiques et méthodologiques ? Le papier se propose de contribuer à la réflexion autour de ces questions en partageant l’expérience et les leçons apprises dans le cadre d’un projet de recherche interdisciplinaire financé par le Fonds National Suisse de Recherche Scientifique. Le projet, encore en cours, vise à décrire l’évolution des priorités thématiques de l’agenda international des droits de l’enfant entre 1989 et 2009 et à comprendre les facteurs qui ont influencé les choix des acteurs. Pour répondre aux questions de recherche, le projet a utilisé à la fois des méthodes qualitatives et quantitatives, au point où la frontière entre celles-ci devient difficile à décerner. Tout d’abord, une analyse de contenu herméneutique a été conduite sur un corpus de 327 sources. Ensuite, des perspectives complémentaires ont été acquises à travers des entretiens semi-directifs et en effectuant une analyse du discours sur une portion du corpus. Tout en soulignant l’intérêt de l’approche adoptée dans le cadre du projet, le papier se concentrera sur les méthodes et les outils utilisés, ainsi que sur les défis liés à l’utilisation conjointe de méthodes quantitatives et qualitative.

Presentation on 24.01.2012
Analyse de dispersion de séquences d’états: analyser les liens entre trajectoires et variables explicatives
Matthias Studer (SES, Unige)
L’analyse de séquences est devenue l’une des méthodes privilégiées pour analyser des trajectoires. Elle permet notamment d’étudier dans une perspective holistique les patterns récurrents et la prise en compte de la multiplicité des états possible. Techniquement, cette analyse repose sur une mesure de distance entre trajectoires, ce qui permet de les comparer. En pratique, ces distances sont souvent utilisées pour construire une typologie des trajectoires et identifier des trajectoires types. Au-delà de l’approche descriptive, on s’intéresse généralement à identifier les facteurs qui influencent la construction de la trajectoire. Pour ce faire, il est d’usage de mettre en relation les types obtenus avec d’autres facteurs d’intérêt, tels que le sexe, à l’aide de régressions logistiques ou de tests d’association. Cependant, en se centrant sur les types de trajectoires, on perd de l’information, ce qui peut conduire à des conclusions trompeuses. Nous présentons ici un ensemble de méthodes qui permet d’analyser les liens entre les séquences d’une part et un ou plusieurs facteurs explicatifs d’autre part. Originellement utilisées en écologie, ces méthodes reposent sur la définition d’une mesure de dispersion des séquences et sur une généralisation des principes de l’analyse de variance (ANOVA) à tous types de dissimilarités. Conceptuellement, ces méthodes permettent un changement de paradigme. Plutôt que de se baser sur la recherche de modèles de trajectoires, nous considérons qu’elles sont insérées dans des contextes multiples qui peuvent influencer — chacun à sa manière — la construction d’une trajectoire. Ces méthodes complètent donc l’analyse de séquences traditionnelle, principalement exploratoire, par une approche confirmatoire.
Presentation Matthias Studer
Analyse R Matthias Studer

Presentation on 28.02.2012
Endogeneity: An overlooked threat to validity of cross-sectional research
John Antonakis (Unil/HEC)
John Antonakis will present on the problem of endogeneity. His presentation will focus on a assumption of regression analysis (or structural equation modeling) regarding the fact that the modeled independent variables are assumed to be exogenous (i.e., random and independent of omitted causes from the model). Yet, the problems of endogeneity are not well known to researchers working in many social sciences disciplines. Researchers often conduct studies to determine the relationship between a supposed independent variable, x (e.g., an attitude, choice) and a dependent one, y (e.g., outcome). Estimating such a model—where x has not been exogenously manipulated—may lead to spurious findings because the supposed independent variable may depend on a variable or variables that predict y and correlate with x too. In this seminar, he will give a brief and vivid overview to endogeneity and the conditions under which it will be engendered. He will show, using non-technical language and intuitive explanations that in the presence of endogeneity the observed relationship that is estimated can be very misleading. He will briefly demonstrate how this problem can be solved using procedures borrowed from econometrics. Finally, he will briefly report as to prevalence of endogeneity in a social science discipline using papers published in top journals the previous 10 years, showing that that researchers fail to address at least 66% and up to 90% of design and estimation conditions that that make model estimates invalid.
Presentation John Antonakis
Podcast Endogeneity

Presentation on 27.03.2012
Quality of Online-Panels: An Experiment with Propensity Score Adjustments
Beat Hulliger (School of Business, FHNW)
A battery of possible predictors for the participation in an online-panel was investigated in an experimental recruiting survey. The predictors were based on values, personality traits and rational choice theories. The recruiting survey used a random-quota sample and was carried out with CATI. The later participation in the online-panel of LINK Institute for Market and Social Research was registered and served as the response variable for propensity score models. General linear models and classification trees were used. The objective was to find a model which uses at most five variables in order to establish a parsimonious set of covariates which would be used routinely in recruiting surveys. Direct propensity score adjustment and propensity score matching were tested by comparing the distribution of control variables with the distribution in the recruiting survey. No universal reduction of bias could be found: Clear improvements were only visible, when a variable was heavily biased by differential panel participation and a good model for the panel participation could be established.

Presentation on 24.04.2012
Transnationalism and cosmopolitanism explored through the autobiographical narrative interview methodology
Claudia Vorheyer (UZH)
The talk deals with the qualitative method of narrative interviews. First of all the typical processes of conducting and analyzing narrative interviews are demonstrated. In addition to that its special epistemological potential will be emphasized and using the example of exploring transnationalism and cosmopolitanism demonstrated. Therefore we present our currently research project about the group of so-called “Transnational Mobiles”. The latter are people who were living in at least three different countries for a significant period of time. Here we are interested in their social and biographical backgrounds and related to that the motifs of their transnational careers. Moreover the beginning and further trajectories of their transnational biographies are reconstructed. Finally we focus on their identity formations and cosmopolitan orientations. As a matter of fact investigating transnationalism and cosmopolitism as a mode of self-transformation the use of autobiographical narrative interview methodology allows particularly new insights.

Presentation on 29.05.2012
Effects of prepaid monetary incentives on mail survey response rates and on self-reporting about delinquency – Empirical findings
Rolf Becker (Unibe)
In the context of a survey on criminal behavior a methodological experiment has been carried out in order to investigate whether mail survey response rates can be influenced by monetary incentives. Prepaid monetary incentives are expected to elicit higher response rates, as predicted by social exchange and subjectively expected utility theory. This is true especially in a survey on the respondents’ delinquent behavior, since prepaid incentives are likely to strengthen the respondents’ trust towards the researcher. For surveys in which money is promised once the questionnaire is returned, it is assumed that the response rates to be lower. The empirical findings clearly support our assumptions, even if the social mechanisms of reciprocity which underlie response behavior cannot be observed directly. The analysis also provides that monetary incentives neither evoke desirability nor sponsorship effects which would cause over-reporting of criminal activities. Finally, our results show no systematic variation regarding socio-structural characteristics and correlates of delinquent behavior.

Presentation on 05.06.2012 Please note the different time and location: 11:00-12:15 in room 3032 Anthropole
L’analyse QCA: principes, applications et potentiel en sciences sociales
Benoît Rihoux (Université catholique de Louvain)
L’analyse ’QCA’ (Qualitative Comparative Analysis) s’est développée à la fois comme une approche et comme une série de techniques depuis la fin des années ’80, au confluent de la macrosociologie historique et de la politique comparée. Cet exposé vise, tout d’abord, à présenter les fondements de QCA comme approche, avec ses objectifs, postulats, et conception de la causalité. Il sera démontré que cette approche emprunte à la fois aux approches centrées sur les cas (‘qualitatives’) et centrées sur les variables (‘quantitatives’). Dans un deuxième temps, les principaux usages et techniques de QCA seront présentés ; il sera démontré que QCA peut être utilisé de différentes manières (plus inductives ou hypothético-déductives), en exploitant différents types de données, et suivant des designs de recherche différentes (des « petits N » aux « grands N »). Enfin, quelques tendances récentes dans l’exploitation de QCA seront discutées, telles que la diversification disciplinaire, l’analyse de données à différents niveaux (dont le niveau micro), ou encore la combinaison de QCA avec d’autres techniques.
Presentation Benoît Rihoux

[(Program Flyer 2011/2012)] (PDF – 1 Mb)

[(Presentation Reto Schumacher)] (PDF – 241.3 kb)

[(Presentation Matthias Studer)] (PDF – 1012.4 kb)

[(Analysis Studer)] (texte – 7.6 kb)

[(Presentation John Antonakis)] (PDF – 425.6 kb)

[(Presentation Benoît Rihoux)] (PDF – 136.1 kb)

Semester 2010/2011

Program Flyer 2010_2011 (PDF – 762.8 ko)

Presentation on 5.10.2010
Des jeux de hasard à l’évidence statistique : quelques repères historiques
Christiane Ruffieux (CHUV, Lausanne)
Abstract Christiane Ruffieux (PDF – 33 ko)
Presentation Christiane Ruffieux (PDF – 220 ko)

Presentation on 2.11.2010
Evolution d’une structure de pensée Dynamique de l’émergence des représentations sociales
Henry-Arnaud Thévenet (Faculty of Social and Political Sciences, UNIL)
Abstract_Thevenet (PDF – 31.4 ko)
Presentation Henry-Arnaud Thévenet (PDF – 1.2 Mo)

Presentation on 7.12.2010
Maximiser a posteriori la comparabilité de données quantitatives : une illustration avec les violences envers les femmes
Véronique Jaquier (Institut de criminologie et de droit pénal, UNIL)
Abstract Véronique Jaquier (PDF – 31.6 ko)
Presentation Véronique Jaquier (PDF – 364.8 ko)

Presentation on 25.1.2011
Évaluation de l’efficacité des psychothérapies : Apports et limites de la méta-analyse
Grégoire Zimmermann (Faculté des sciences sociales et politiques, UNIL)
Abstract Grégoire Zimmermann (PDF – 31.7 ko)
Presentation Grégoire Zimmermann (PDF – 2.4 Mo)

Presentation on 22.2.2011
Recent developments in the sample survey methodology
Yves Tillé (Institut de statistique ; UNINE)
Abstract Yves Tillé (PDF – 30.3 ko)
Presentation Yves Tillé (PDF – 408 ko)

Presentation on 29.3.2011
Analyse de discours : Théorie et pratique
Véronique Mottier (Faculté des sciences sociales et politiques, UNIL)

Presentation on 19.4.2011
Using a Multilevel Structural Equation Modeling Approach to Explain Cross-Cultural Measurement Noninvariance
Eldad Davidov (Institute of Sociology, UNIZH) and Hermann Dülmer (University of Cologne, Germany)
Abstract Eldad Davidov (PDF – 30.9 ko)

Presentation on 31.5.2011
Introduction aux modèles Exponential Random Graph (ERGM)
Victorin Luisier (Faculté de Psychologie et des Sciences de l’Éducation, Université de Geneve)
Presentation Victorin Luisier (PDF – 2.3 Mo)
Abstract : Comment expliquer que dans un réseau de relations, comme le reseau d’amitié d’une classe d’élève, certaines paires d’individus entretiennent une relation, alors que ce n’est pas le cas des autres ? Derrière cette question intuitive se cache en fait un challenge méthodologique et statistique.

En effet, si l’existence d’une relation interindividuelle peut s’expliquer le biais de variables individuelles (ex : âge), elle dépend aussi d’autres relations dans le réseau (ex : réciprocité, amis en commun). Ces autres relations créent une structure d’autodépendance rendant impossible l’utilisation de modèles statistiques standards.

Les ERGM ont quant à eux justement été développés afin de modéliser l’effet de variables individuelles et de la structure d’autocorrélation sur un réseau de relation. A l’aide d’un réseau d’amitié mesuré dans un gymnase (collège) suisse, nous introduirons ces modèles ERGM. Nous nous intéresserons plus particulièrement à l’effet du genre sur le réseau d’amitié de ce collège.

Plus d’informations
Kathrin Kissau
+41 (0)21 692 37 49

Semester 2009/2010

Seminar on Tuesday, 6.10.2009, Vidy 209, at 12:15
New techniques for longitudinal analyses
Florent Dieterlen (UNIL)
A mathematical modelling method is presented, based on dynamical systems. The method consists in constructing a dynamical system (differential equations system) from historical data or from questionnaires. The historical data can be of two types : a) Average data for variables for a population (example : Swiss statistical office (OFS) data for unemployment, voting, etc., for Swiss population) for several years, at regular intervals if possible. b) Data from variables for individuals, countries, etc., which are then stacked in the method, in order to have an average evolution. Here, the averaging is done within the method, instead of being done before (example : FORS data for individuals).

Seminar on Tuesday, 3.11.2009, Extranef 110, at 12:15
TraMineR : un outil pour l’exploration de données séquentielles catégorielles
Gilbert Ritschard (Dpt d’économétrie et Laboratoire de démographie, UNIGE)
TraMineR est une librairie R pour la fouille, la description et la visualisation de séquences d’états et/ou d’événements, et plus généralement de données séquentielles discrètes. Bien que s’appliquant à toutes sortes de séquences chronologiques ou non (textes, séquences ADN, etc.), les fonctions et graphiques proposés ont été conçus essentiellement pour l’analyse de données biographiques longitudinales en sciences sociales, telles que les données décrivant des carrières professionnelles ou des trajectoires de vie familiales. la présentation commencera avec un aperçu des multiples possibilités que propose la librairie aussi bien pour l’exploration de séquences d’états (visualisation, caractéristiques longitudinales des séquences, description synthétique d’un ensemble de séquences, calcul de dissimilarités entre paires de séquences, analyse de variance de séquences, détermination de séquences représentatives) que pour la fouille de séquences d’événements (extraction des sous-séquences fréquentes et parmi elles des sous-séquences les plus discriminantes entre groupes). En s’appuyant sur les données de l’enquête rétrospective réalisée en 2002 par le Panel Suisse de Ménages (PMS), on procède ensuite à une analyse de l’évolution des trajectoires cohabitationnelles et occupationnelles au cours du 20e siècle en Suisse.

Seminar on Tuesday, 1.12.2009, Vidy 209, at 12:15
Mixing modes of data collection in social surveys
Caroline Roberts (MISC, UNIL)
Survey researchers are faced with a number of choices when deciding how to design their studies. Many of these decisions are guided by resource considerations, but the choices made can have important implications for the overall quality of the data collected. In particular, selecting a mode of data collection (e.g. whether to administer the questionnaire by interviewer, in person or over the telephone, or to have respondents read and complete the questions themselves, on paper or on the Internet), is not only relevant to survey costs, it can also influence a range of outcomes relevant to data quality, including the extent of population coverage provided, how well the achieved sample represents the population, and the accuracy of the answers given. Because modes vary by how much they cost and by their unique measurement properties, each one offers different advantages and disadvantages for different types of study. Using a combination of modes in a single study makes it possible to offset the weaknesses of one method with the strengths of another and increasingly, researchers are looking to exploit this potential of mixing modes as a way to reduce specific types of survey error and control survey costs.

However, combining modes has the effect of confounding different sources of error in the data, and the resulting non-equivalence can affect the validity of conclusions drawn by analysts. In this presentation, I describe the challenges to survey quality involved in mixing modes, and in particular, the difficulty of assessing the effects of mixing modes on measurement. I review theories about why different modes of data collection can lead to differences in survey responses and describe the methods typically used to assess mode effects. I then discuss some of the drawbacks associated with these methods, including whether or not mode effects are detected in the first place, and where they are, how to decide whether they matter in practice. The issues raised are illustrated with examples from experimental research conducted by the coordinating team of the European Social Survey, designed to inform decisions about whether to allow mixed mode data collection in its future rounds, but the conclusions drawn have implications for all researchers considering the possibility of mixing modes in their own surveys, or analyzing data from a mixed mode study.

Seminar on Tuesday, 23.2.2010, Vidy 209, at 12:15
’Spatial Metaphors’ or how to make Political Landscapes and Social Spaces Visible
Michael Hermann (SOTOMO, UNIZH)
Maps are powerful instruments to identify and communicate spatial relations. However, they do not necessarily need to be restricted to geographic space, they may also depict abstract metaphorical spaces. Instead of the cardinal directions north, west, south and east metaphorical maps display socio-economic, cultural or political areas of conflict. Although metaphorical maps are maps without direct geographical spatial reference, they are of particular interest for spatial analysis. To visualize geographical entities such as local authorities or statistical zones not in their geographical but in their socio-economic context, means offering new perspectives on the spatial dynamic of development and helps to improve the understanding of its social dimension. With the help of our analysis of Switzerland’s social and political space I will show in the presentation, how to appropriately generate and use metaphorical maps.

Seminar on Tuesday, 30.3.2010, Extranef 110, at 12:15
Traitement de données manquantes : comparaison de plusieurs méthodes
Mélanie Cicognani (IMA, UNIL)
Lors du traitement statistique de données, les données manquantes constituent un problème majeur, puisque l’information est incomplète, ajoutant de l’incertitude. Comme première approche, nous avons comparé par le biais de simulations numériques différentes méthodes existantes pour le traitement de données manquantes. En partant d’un fichier sans aucune donnée manquante, nous avons créé neuf scénarios variant en fonction du nombre de données manquantes et de leur type. Mille ensembles de données ont été générés à partir de chaque scénario, puis les données manquantes ont été traitées selon différentes approches. Les moyennes, écarts-types et corrélations entre variables imputées ont été comparés avec le fichier original sans données manquantes. L’influence du traitement des données manquantes sur un modèle de régression a aussi été évaluée. Nos résultats montrent que les méthodes basées sur l’imputation multiple sont globalement les meilleures. D’autres méthodes, comme par exemple l’imputation simple par régression, permettent aussi l’obtention de résultats intéressants, mais seulement dans certaines situations particulières. Durant ce séminaire, nous aborderons quelques points importants à l’étude des données manquantes ainsi que certaines méthodes, puis nous examinerons les résultats des comparaisons effectuées par simulations.

Seminar on Tuesday, 27.4.2010, Vidy 209, at 12:15
Configurations familiales et santé mentale : une application de l’analyse de réseaux à un suivi longitudinal de patients
Marlène Sapin (FORS)
Cette contribution cherche à explorer l’association entre insertion familiale et santé mentale, une soixantaine d’individus d’un cabinet de psychothérapie privé ont été interrogés tous les trois mois, au cours d’un suivi d’une année et demi, sur leur réseau familial. Ils ont également répondu à un instrument mesurant leurs symptômes psychiques. Les résultats montrent qu’il existe une pluralité d’insertions familiales et de fonctionnements relationnelles, inégalement associés à la détresse psychique des individus. Se basant sur cette recherche, l’objectif de cette présentation est tout d’abord de présenter l’approche, consistant à mesurer l’insertion des individus dans leur réseau personnel (défini par Krackardt (1987) comme « cognitive networks ») ainsi que la méthode utilisée pour déterminer les différentes insertions familiales et fonctionnements relationnels. Il est en second lieu de discuter les points forts et faibles de l’approche et plus spécifiquement de la dimension longitudinale. L’importante variabilité des insertions familiales et des dynamiques relationnelles trouvées chez ces patients fragilisés au cours des vagues a rendu l’analyse longitudinale complexe. Une application de différentes techniques, que j’aimerais discuter, a permis d’identifier des trajectoires d’insertion familiale et de fonctionnement relationnel au cours du suivi.

Seminar on Tuesday, 25.5.2010, Extranef 110, at 12:15
Conducting Research on the Internet
Ulf-Dietrich Reips (Dpt. of Social and Economic Psychology, University of Bilbao)
Methods for Internet-based research are currently one of the hot areas in methodology. Within its brief history (ca. fifteen years), the field has seen a massive increase in the number of studies conducted on the Internet, marking a grass-roots change in how research in the behavioral and social sciences often is conducted. For examples of Web experiments and surveys see the Web experiment and Web survey lists at and for tools to conduct Internet-based research see the iScience Server at I will present and discuss findings on methods, techniques, and tools in Internet-based research and will be happy to offer and discuss solutions to many of the imagined and real challenges in using the new methodology.

Semester 2009

Seminar on Thursday, 19.3.2009, Internef 125, at 12:15
R et analyses textuelles
Jean-Pierre Müller (IMA)
Des presque 1700 packages créés pour R, une quinzaine ont un lien direct ou indirect avec l’analyse de données textuelles. La première partie de ce séminaire sera consacrée à la présentation et l’exploration de quelques-uns, dont “RQDA”, destiné à l’analyse qualitative, mais aussi de “tm”, “lsa” et “Rweka” destinés à l’analyse quantitative. La seconde partie proposera des solutions aux différents problèmes et difficultés rencontrés lors de l’utilisation de ces librairies sur des textes en français dans le cadre des sciences humaines.

Seminar on Thursday, 2.4.2009, Vidy 209, at 12:15
Panel attrition on the individual and the household level
Oliver Lipps (FORS)
Attrition is mostly caused by not contacted or refusing sample members. On one hand it is well-known that reasons to attrite due to non-contact are different from those that are due to refusal. On the other hand does noncontact most probably affect household attrition, while refusal can be effective on the level of both households and individuals. Knowledge of possible compensating or reinforcing effects of selectivity may give hints how to improve communication, incentive schemes, and fieldwork on both levels in household panel surveys. In this seminar, attrition on both the household and (conditional on household participation) the individual level is analysed in three panel surveys from the Cross National Equivalent File (CNEF): the German Socio- Economic Panel (GSOEP), the British Household Panel Study (BHPS), and the Swiss Household Panel (SHP). To follow households over time, we use a common rule in all three surveys. First, we find different attrition magnitudes and patterns both across the surveys and also on the household and the individual level. Second, there is more evidence for reinforced rather than compensated household level selection effects if the individual level is also taken into account.

Seminar on Thursday, 23.4.2009, Internef 125, at 12:15
Event History Analysis and diffusion models
Jean-Marie Le Goff (ITB)
Les méthodes d’Event History Analysis ont pour objectif l’analyse de la distribution du temps d’occurrence d’un événement dans une population, alors que les modèles de diffusion visent à analyser la diffusion d’une innovation, d’une rumeur ou d’une pratique de personne à personne. Plusieurs travaux ont proposé de faire un lien entre les deux types d’approche, l’événement étant alors l’adoption par une personne de l’innovation (Dieckmann 1987, Greve, Tuma & Strang, 1995). La présente communication aura deux objectifs. Le premier est de spécifier l’un des modèles de diffusion, le modèle d’influence mixte, dans le corpus des méthodes d’Event History Analysis (Mahajan & Peterson, 1985). Le second est de porter un intérêt sur la manière d’appréhender les personnes qui n’adoptent pas l’innovation.

Seminar on Thursday, 7.5.2009, Vidy 209, at 12:15
Spatially weighted contextual variables in multi-level analyses: A new avenue for comparative survey research?
Guy Elcheroth (MISC)
Survey research or electoral studies have repeatedly shown that political attitudes and behaviour are influenced by collective economic and social circumstances, rather than the personal situation of individual citizens. This has lead to an increased interest in multilevel analyses, which are now widely used as a privileged tool for studying the effect of nation-level indicators on individual survey responses. Regrettably, these mainstream procedures convey a series of limitations for creative approaches to contextual data generation, mainly because of highly restrictive implications regarding eligible micro-level data sources. Further, they automatically introduce assumptions about the relationship between the communitarian backgrounds of collective experiences and social representations, which are theoretically undefined. In order to over-come part of these shortcomings, we have started to develop an innovative procedure for generating contextual variables that are spatially weighted. The starting point of our approach is close to geographically weighted regression analysis, sharing its objective to define open-ended social contexts. However, we extend the core notion of (social) distance/proximity to multifaceted social interdependencies and influences, encompassing the territorial, symbolic, and practical dimensions of social communities. A substantive research application, based on comparative survey data collected within transitional societies of the former Yugoslavia, will be presented.

Seminar on Thursday, 28.5.2009, Internef 125, at 12:15
Survey sampling package for R
Alina Matei (UNINE)
L’Institut de Statistique de l’Université de Neuchâtel a entrepris depuis trois ans la réalisation d’un logiciel libre permettant de traiter les enquêtes par sondage au moyen des méthodes statistiques les plus modernes. Initialement, ce projet a vu le jour afin de servir d’outil pédagogique pour des cours avancés sur les méthodes d’échantillonnage organisés par l’Office Fédéral de la Statistique sous l’égide d’Eurostat et de l’Association Européenne de Libre Echange (AELE). Ces cours étaient destinés aux statisticiens des instituts de statistique des pays européens et des pays de la Méditerranée. Aujourd’hui, ce projet, poursuivi dans le cadre de la collaboration avec l’Office Fédéral de la Statistique, a dépassé le cadre strictement pédagogique. L’intérêt de ce logiciel (intitulé ’sampling’) est d’être écrit au moyen du logiciel libre et gratuit R. Il permet de sélectionner des échantillons selon plusieurs méthodes, de traiter les problèmes de non-réponse, d’ajuster des données d’enquêtes sur des données de recensement, et d’évaluer la précision des estimations ainsi obtenues.